Brown axed to keep Conservative party ‘beyond reproach,’ top official tells members

By Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

The chair of the Conservatives’ leadership election organizing committee says the party “could not afford the risk” of having a candidate under investigation for breaking federal laws.

In an email sent to party members Friday morning, Ian Brodie doubled down on the decision as the “right thing” to keep the party “beyond reproach” in the long term.

The missive did not address last night’s late-breaking statement from a whistleblower, Debra Jodoin, who alleged that Brown broke election laws by personally directing a private company to pay for her campaign expenses.

Nor did it address the apparent disagreement within the leadership committee over Brown’s candidacy in the first place.

Sources with knowledge of the situation who would only agree to speak on the condition of anonymity told The Canadian Press that some members of a nominations subcommittee were pushing to disallow Brown from running in the leadership race.

The nomination committee, responsible for vetting potential candidates, was chaired by longtime former MP Deborah Grey and included current MP Nelly Shin, former Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski, former Stephen Harper-era minister Leona Aglukkaq and party vice president Valerie Assouline, multiple sources confirmed.

They were ultimately overruled by the broader leadership organizing committee, which approved Brown’s candidacy April 26.


Grey declined to comment and the other members of the nomination committee could not immediately be reached.

Yaroslav Baran, a spokesman for the party, declined to comment on the springtime discord.

The broader leadership committee voted 11 to six late Tuesday to remove Brown from the contest after Brodie, its chair, brought forward allegations of financial impropriety.

Sources familiar with the situation said that specific evidence supporting the allegations, which they said included text messages directly implicating Brown, was not shown to the leadership committee before it was asked to vote.

Instead, the Conservative Party’s lawyer forwarded the information to the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, which confirmed Thursday that it had received documentation but declined to elaborate on its nature, citing confidentiality provisions of the Canada Elections Act.

Brodie’s Friday morning note further characterized the documentation he received as “credible” and “verifiable,” and thanked members of the committee for asking “important questions as part of a decision that nobody should be forced to make.”

It said the committee “did the right thing, as tough as it is, to protect the long-term interests of the party.”

Brown’s campaign has said the party did not provide it with detailed information about the accusation against him, beyond an allegation that a person working on his campaign was being paid for the work by a private corporation _ a violation of federal election rules.

And in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week, Brown explicitly denied that he had personal knowledge of any such activity.

But Jodoin, the whistleblower, said in a statement released by her lawyer late Thursday that Brown had told her “it was permissible for me to be employed by a company as a consultant, and then for that company to have me volunteer with the campaign.”

Jodoin said that he had personally connected her with a third party for that purpose, stating, “I trusted him, but as time went on I became increasingly concerned with the arrangement and suspected it was not OK.”

In the Friday email, Brodie said the Brown campaign was given multiple opportunities to respond to the allegations last week but that its ultimate reply “did not address our concerns about violations.”

It says that Brown’s team “knew full well” what the allegations were and any suggestion to the contrary is “simply incorrect.”

Chisholm Pothier, a spokesman for Brown, tweeted an excerpt from a letter he said the campaign sent to the leadership committee June 30, which without naming Jodoin offered a contradictory account of her involvement with the campaign.

The letter said that it was Brown’s understanding that Jodoin was volunteering for his campaign outside of work performed for the private company, which was owned by a friend of Brown’s.

It said that the campaign was prepared to reimburse the money, which it understood to be less than $10,000, if this was not the case.

Pothier said in a statement Thursday night that the point of the ouster was to “narrow the field” in the leadership race.

Brown has accused the party’s top officials of pushing him out of the race to advantage his main rival, longtime Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre.

Poilievre’s campaign had denied any involvement.

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